Amazon

Thanks for stopping for a visit. But I’m on walk-about today.

I hope you’ll stop over at SARA TRIMBLE’S BLOG where I’m chatting about what a visual writer I am and how adding small details to your writing can make a big difference.

And if that doesn’t entice you, I’ve got a brand new excerpt from my sexy romantic suspense Deceive Her With Deception and a chance to win a set of my romance trading cards.

I’m going to admit a couple things here.

1) I had never purchased a book until 4 years ago when my friend had her debut novel released. (I was a library kind of gal.)
2) I STILL don’t own an e-reader. I know … scandalous right? Because I can’t afford an iPad, I vascillate between a Nook and a Kindle and people who own either “think they’re the best”. Anyway, I’m currently reading e-books on my computer.

So what’s the point of “true confession Friday”? Well, I have no idea how the buyer of digital books thinks. Are they looking for bargain books and willing to try new authors and genres? Are they still only buying their auto-buy authors? And what about freebies?

Yeeeeah, what about freebies? Do thousands of people just automatically download all free books on Amazon, Kindle or Smashwords thinking they may read them and if they don’t … whatever? Or do they pick up the free book by an author thinking they may find a new-to-them author? Does that in turn entice them to go buy more books by that author?

Or are so many books being offered for free by so many authors that readers have become leary of the quality of the writing? With the instant availability of publishing to anyone with a computer the writing/story can range from fabulous to OMG! is English the author’s first language? Leaving the reader to wonder if the author knows the definition of “edit”.

Is a reader more likely to read a book if they have to pay even a minimal amount for it? Say $.99? Does even that small amount of outlay give value to the purchase?

Of course I’m asking because I currently have two sexy romantic suspense novels in my “Tilling Passions” series up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Blind Her With Bliss and Deceive Her With Desire. And now that I’m very close to getting the third book in this series published, I’m thinking about my pricing strategy.

Does giving away the first book entice people to read the second and third in the series? Or will it sit unread in the libraries of Nooks and Kindles across the country, never to be opened? I have no idea. This whole self-publishing seems to be a big fat roll of the dice all the way around.

So what about you? When you see a book on B&N or Amazon for free do you assume certain things? Do your feelings change if it’s $.99? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this because I’m currently BEYOND confused on what is best at this point.

I want your attention. I can’t help it. I’m a middle child. It comes with the territory. I’m also driven to be a perfectionist. That means I want to be number one. The best.

No, these aren’t positive traits, but hey, it’s who I am and I embrace it.

Why am I telling you this? Weeellll … I’ve been writing fulltime now for six years. Not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, but enough that I’d like to have found a following. And yes, I see the three of you out there jumping up and down. I know you love my books and I appreciate it more than I can say. I was just hoping to have a couple more by now so I could at least say I have a “crowd” of fans. Not a “mob”, mind you, but a number of peeps that are chomping at the bit waiting for my next book.

I know an author whose debut novel went viral, even though it hadn’t been edited well. (Her zillions of reader reviews mentioned this fact. It’s the only reason I know.) It was in a subgenre of romance I’ve written in. Every subsequent book has increased her readership exponentially. I can’t lie. I want to be her. Since my reviews from review sites and readers alike are all positive and sport a significant number of stars, I figure I craft a pretty good romance.

I market myself, but do try to walk the fine line of not annoying people. And yet … I feel invisible. Have I crossed the line from a friendly banter about books to “oh, my God, here she comes … quick get the delete button ready”? I don’t know.

I do know there are a hell of a lot of books being made available to readers DAILY. I scroll through the 100’s of my feeds on Goodreads and rarely see the same cover twice. I’d just like to know what made one book stand out from another. Good writing? I don’t always think that’s the case. I’ve seen very good books bomb in sales and poorly crafted books rise to the top. Good marketing? Perhaps. But again. I’ve seen two authors do exactly the same thing. One with amazing results and the other … not so much. (Speaking from experience, Nina?) Genre? I’ve got to nix this one as well because books in all genres are both flying off the virtual shelves and gathering dust. A great book cover? Again, that’s personal taste. Both ugly covers and beautiful covers can be found on the best seller lists of Amazon.

So what is it? That Je ne sais quoi that gets a book to the top 100? If you’ve got the magic answer please share. There are LOTS of us trying to figure out the secret.

I feel fortunate that I skirted the worst of Irene. I rode out the tropical storm in southern Maine with a bunch of family. With a generator to run a crock pot we had warm food and great company playing a very spirited game of Spades while the wind howled and the rain came down in torrents. I’ve been without internet for the last week and though I’ve been going through withdrawals, it’s nothing compared to the people still without power and worst still … damaged property.

But while I was away, several reviews came around for my books. And since I’m working feverishly to catch up on all things blogging (including some over due guest blogs) I’ll leave you with some happy reviews.

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Lilly at Romance Junkies gave Love’s Bounty 3 RIBBONS and had this to say…

Passion and suspense go hand-in-hand in LOVE’S BOUNTY. Author Nina Pierce knows how to turn up the heat and keep it on high, which makes LOVE’S BOUNTY a deliciously erotic read. Couple that with the danger brought about by Ayden’s case and you’ll find that LOVE’S BOUNTY is definitely a high-octane thrill of a read.

MEDIUM

Stacey at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews gave Invitation to Ecstasy 5 Hearts and said…

Sara and Derek have both met their demons but they need each other to be able to face them and overcome what was left in the wake. By pushing the other one, each learns the art of letting go of the hurts others have welded upon them and they begin to believe in themselves once again.

Invitation to Ecstasy is a quick read that will suck you right into the lives of Sara and Derek. I laughed and I cried at different points of their story. Nina Pierce does a fantastic job of giving you enough details to understand the plot and the characters without drowning in them. Invitation to Ecstasy is one of my new favorite books.

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Stacey from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews also reviewed Maid for Master giving it 4 HEARTS and said …

Maid for Master is a sexy erotic romance with lots of emotion. Friendship, love, anger, and hate all forge bonds between the characters as they experience something new. Ms. Pierce brings to life the story of Claire and how her darkest desires do not make her a bad person. In Maid for Master, she explores the ability to live out those fantasies and still be a strong woman.

Maid for Master is the perfect book for someone looking for a story of love with hot fantasies and even hotter interactions. It has a softer romantic side of the BDSM lifestyle that is fun and exciting to read about.

 

I am a member of Romance Writers of America. Mostly I keep up my membership because I can then be a member of smaller chapters like Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal, Maine Romance Writers and the New England Chapter, all of them full of wonderful authors who offer advice and support my career.

When I started writing six years ago I was alone in the world with no clue how to navigate the waters of the publishing world. I found RWA and then my local Maine chapter. Thanks to them and several RWA sponsored writing contests I was able to learn my craft, hone my writing skills and publish. Of course back then RWA didn’t consider me published because I had chosen to work with Liquid Silver Books, a digital publisher (whom I would highly recommend). With no advance coming to me for my books they considered me little more than a hobbiest. Yeah whatever.

As the electronic industry grew and e-readers became part of the book buyer’s landscape, RWA could no longer ignore the fact that many authors were choosing to contract their books to digital publishers. For many writers, the high percentage of royalties was now outweighing the desire to sell books to publisher with low advances that rarely “earned out”.

RWA now recognizes authors as “officially published” who earn $1000 or more with a single book title either as an advance OR in royalties. Okay, well, no kidding authors of e-books who have received awesome reviews and have a readership have known this for a long time.

But if there’s one truth about publishing … nothing remains the same for long.

Now, authors are finding financial success publishing books directly to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And RWA has no idea what to do with these authors who earn sometimes more than the traditionally published mid-list author in NY. Because … get this … that author is only a hobbiest. They aren’t looking at their writing career as a profession.

Wai … wha?

It’s true. And there are some authors who are jumping on that bandwagon. Now don’t ask me why, in this time of Amanda Hocking, JA Konrath and Barry Eisler, who are making amazing money publishing their own books, why RWA would NOT consider this a viable publishing option for an author’s career. To me it’s a sound business decision to make sure I’ve tapped into all aspects of the publishing market.

I consider myself a “professional” writer. I intend to contribute substantially to the family budget, not just offer a movie and dinner night to Mr. Nina once a month when my royalty check arrives. But it is the rare author who makes a living wage right out of the starting gate. It takes time to market onesself and find a readership base. When will I consider myself a success? Hmmm, I’m not sure. I suspect every time I reach one goal I’ll be stretching toward another. What I do know is that I can’t decide for someone else how to define their writing.

There are some who really are just happy writing their stories and getting them out into the world, even if they don’t make much money. And others who are happy squeezing their writing time between a fulltime job, kids and the hubster, thrilled to have extra money every month or so to feed their book-buying addiction. Are they not professionals? That’s not for me to decide. And I know that’s not much of an answer.

The truth is, RWA is trying to juggle many writers with a lot of needs. It just seems to me that the organization is once again fighting the US (those who are published with recognized electronic publishers and traditionally published authors making a living wage) vs THEM (everyone still finding their way including those “self-pubbed” to Amazon) battle. I don’t know where the organization is going or what will be decided about authors who make their living publishing direct. I just hope the powers that be are looking at this from all angles, not just the one down their nose.

So, as an author does any of this affect you? And as a reader, does it matter to you where your favorite books come from (recognized pubs or Amazon/B&N directs)?

St. Patty’s Day Blessings to all!

I feel a bit o’rambling coming on. I took Little Boy Blue to the doctor’s last week. (At 18 and 6′ 5″ he’s a bit bigger than most of the little ones showing up at the pediatricians. And the nurses just love him.) Poor thing ended up having an infected head … eyes, sinuses, throat, and ears. Poor kid, no wonder he felt like poop. But this isn’t about him.

It’s about his pediatrician.

My kids have been seeing her since they were itty bitty. She’s a hoot and I love her. After she’s checked over whichever one of my kiddos she’s seeing we inevitably start talking about books. She’s an avid reader. Probably goes through several books a week. But she was complaining that she was reading this wonderful book before she went on vacation but it was too big to take with her on her trip.

“What?” I looked at her, my expression no doubt the same as a mother who just found out her son (who already doesn’t fit into his clothes) is going to grow another 6 inches.  “Please tell me you own an e-reader.” (Now did I mention this woman is single? … and a doctor? … and I have no doubt she has huge school loans … still … she spends more money on books in a month than I spend on groceries, okay, not that much, but a significant layout of the green.) Anyway

She had no idea what I was talking about. I was floored. Yes, I am immersed in the electronic book industry. My books only come in the electronic format … Still, Amazon and the Kindle were all over the news. Especially when Miss O endorsed them on her Christmas special and gave away one to every audience member. I just couldn’t believe she had never considered buying an e-book reader!

The Kindle is a bit pricey IMHO and as far as I know, specific to Amazon downloads. (Though with some finagling I do understand you can download other formats.) But look how cute it is. For around $350 you can carry with you 500 books!

Sony also has an e-reader …

and it comes in all kinds of colors. And if I understand this, it is backlit for easier reading in low light. All this for around $300.

I’m not advocating either of them… just suggesting that you may want to put these on your wish list for the
Birthday Fairy or Santa Claus. Electronic books are not going anywhere. In this day and age when natural resources are not being renewed as quickly as the demand destroys them, doesn’t it just make sense not to eat up trees printing thousands and thousands of books?

Oh, and I already hear your argument. You want to curl up in the recliner with a hot cup of tea, the afghan over her lap and cozy around a good book. But these ereaders are lighter weight, bookmark your place and hold a library! You just can’t beat ’em. Of course if you owned one you could download all my books for a fracture of the cost of print. Now, just that fact alone makes you want to go out and get an e-reader of your own, doesn’t it? 😉

Today I’m pleased to welcome author and friend, Nina Mamone. Nina grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. After she discovered Nancy Drew, she could always be found in a corner with her nose in a book. Now she lives in Maine with her husband and daughter, writing in between looking at piles of laundry and being a stay-at-home mom.

Her newest release, Hard to Guard is a fantasy novella.

A construction worker by day, a Guardian by night, Connor has had it with the irresponsible antics of the wyrms he vowed to keep secret from the human world. The only reason he keeps going is to be near the sassy, sexy, but totally out-of-his-league Sorcha. However, for the past five years, Sorcha’s not-so-subtle digs have convinced him that she only sees him as a stuffy, wet blanket.

Sorcha lusts after Connor and may even love him. But after five years of poking, prodding, teasing-anything to get some kind of reaction, even a frown-she’s given up hope of having a relationship with him. He has made it very clear that working with her to find a kidnapped wyrm is the very last thing he wants to do.

An unaccounted-for wyrm is a deadly wild card, and after a dangerous aphrodisiac appears on the streets, Sorcha and Connor will have to join forces to ensure the safety of everyone they care about.

Whew. Hot. Hot. Hot.

* Please tell us about your newest release Hard to Guard.
Hard to Guard is a classic “they’ve been in love with each other for years – how could they be so blind!” story set in a world where dragons are real and need…well…babysitters. Both Sorcha and Connor are Guardians, which means they’ve each been assigned a dragon and it’s their job to make sure said dragon never becomes unhappy enough to burn down an entire city block. Sorcha is snarky – she was so much fun to write. And what’s even better is that Connor can be really quiet and calm – until he gets around her. She just drives him crazy. They have to work together to recover a kidnapped wyrm, and hot sexin’ and adventure ensues.

* Your hero sounds dreamy. Will we see him in any future works?
Oh, yes. Right now I have one more Guardian story to tell, maybe two. Connor’s best friend, Cisco, is my next victim. Cisco’s story is almost done, and since Connor knows him better than anyone, he’ll be around to support Cisco in his time of ne-…I mean, as he’s falling in love with his heroine.

* What led you to write fantasy and more specifically … dragons?
I’ve always been a paranormal fan. It’s what I read, so it was easy to make the leap to writing it. As for the dragon part, Samhain put out a call for stories for a dragon anthology. The story could be anything, but it had to have a dragon in it. I thought about it a while, of all the different roles a dragon could play. The idea of making the dragon the comic relief really appealed to me.

* I understand Louis (the dragon) adds humor to your story. How’d you come up with a personality for him?
All of the dragons are self-absorbed and clueless. They are rich, physically powerfully, and live for centuries – so their reality is a little different than ours. They don’t have the same worries, the same trials. Also, when I wrote it my daughter was three, which can be a very demanding age. That might have had something to do with it.

* I’m looking to buy new glasses … you like this pair … or this one?
Hmmm. Those. The pink cat eye glasses with rhinestones. They’d look very cute on you.

Oh, and I thought the red ones with gold filigree made me look intellectual … hmmm … but cute is good.

* Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantzer? Do you have favorite drinks or snack foods. Any favorite music you play while writing?
Writing the story is my favorite part – the first draft, finding out who the characters are and what happens to them. That can come out relatively quickly. Revisions are my least favorite thing, but are the most important. I want the story on paper to match the story in my head, and that’s what revisions are all about. I’m a mixture of plotter and pantzer, which is a cruel, cruel joke the writing gods played on me. First I plot, then I pantz, or is it the other way around? Actually, my writing is a lot of trial and error, and I listen to the voice in my gut that lets me know whether I’ve got it or not.

Listening to music is one of my favorite things to do, but usually not while writing. And I will drive waaay out of my way to get a Starbuck’s coffee. It’s one of my kinks.

*Note: Nina has scoffed down two double mocha-chino lattes while sitting here watching me drool. Did she offer me some … ummm … no!

* I know you’ve entered several contests and done very well. Can you tell us about that experience and a little bit about the books that finaled/placed?
I highly recommend contests. To me it is a win/win, even if you don’t place. My experience has been very positive. I have a paranormal romance series I’m working on that deals with a fey sorceress and a curse that affects seven brothers and sisters. I’ve been told it can be difficult to sell a series this early in a career, but since I don’t know how to write anything that isn’t a series the couple of wins, plus the judge’s comments, have really let me know I’m on the right track.

* If you had spare time would you go shopping or to the movies?
Movies. Definitely.

Oh, so sad. I was going to offer to take you on a shopping spree at the new Chip ‘N Dales store they opened just around the corner … but you go enjoy your movie … I can shop for hunks on my own.

* Anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Just that I’m grateful to my readers. I love my stories, and it warms my heart when other people do too. Thanks, guys. Also, if you have a chance, check out the rest of the dragon anthology. I read them all and enjoyed every one.

Thank you for visiting, Nina. I’m happy to say she’s agreed to stay and visit for awhile. She is also generously going to give away a print copy of I Dream of Dragons Anthology – Book II (or an ebook copy of Hard to Guard for my readers over the pond) to a commenter drawn at random. The drawing will held Tuesday, April 8 around 6 pm EST.

For more information on Nina, please visit her website or her MySpace page.

Click HERE to read an excerpt of Hard to Guard.

Nina’s Hard to Guard is available in the I Dream of Dragons Anthology – Book II and can be ordered from Amazon or Samhain Publishing.

Okay, so I feel it coming on … a rant. You’ve been warned so read on if you dare.

Last week Amazon decided to stop carrying books by Print on Demand (POD) suppliers (which in turn affects most ebook publishers who go to print). Why? Well, I’m not sure. Something about they’ll only carry books printed by their business. Okay, I might have this wrong, but it’s something like that. I don’t know the facts because I haven’t been running all over the internet trying to understand exactly what they’re doing or not doing anymore and why they are or are not doing it. I know … you think I’m going to rant about it.

Well I’m not.

Is it a travesty? You betcha! But so is the fact that oil/gas prices keep climbing and corporate mucky-mucks get richer while I sit in northern Maine freezing my butt off because I can’t afford to keep my house any warmer than 65F. And the high cost of diesel is forcing the price of groceries up because companies have to pay so much to ship them to the frozen tundra where I live.

Medical care is out of control. Prices are going up even as insurance coverage is going down.

And it’s all pissing me off and I’m tired. So, please stop asking me to care about what Amazon is doing. Because as terrible as it sounds … I don’t.

Let’s face it … I have neither the time nor the energy to sit down and write to Amazon, Mobil, or Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I could ask you all to boycott Amazon and stop buying books there. But there are enough people who will continue to buy that I’m not sure Amazon will even see a dent in their second quarter profits. I could choose not to buy gas and walk, which I can’t physically do or ride public transportation, which we don’t have or I could simply park my car and drive it when only absolutely necessary … oh, I do that already. I could stop going to the doctor until my insurance company bellies-up to the bar … oh, wait, I already do that too.

So what’s my point?

I know one voice added to a collective can make a difference. But if corporate greed abounds and pockets are deep enough to weather a public storm of discourse then change isn’t going to happen no matter how many people stamp their feet and throw temper tantrums.

Hey, I’m not saying “don’t try”. I’m simply saying that I have enough stuff going on in my personal life that I don’t need to jump on the bandwagon. The economy bites. Prices of everything keep going up and home values keep going down. My car is worth less than I owe since nothing is holding its value these days. And this trend doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. I’m too busy counting pennies for milk (which in Maine costs more than a gallon of gas) to worry about whether or not my friend’s book is available through Amazon. Harsh, but true.

I’m choosing to spend my limited physical resources trying to take care of my family and balance the family budget. I don’t have the energy to go on a letter writing campaign. Because I’ve done that before and nothing changed. The fact is POD and epublishing aren’t at the point of the big publishing houses in New York. Which is good. Without the constraints of high cost of printing, they don’t need to worry about quick turn around to keep their companies running. Wonderful, unique, and high quality writing is now available through these mediums that probably would never have been accessible to the public. People can find all genres, fiction and non-fiction, on subjects that may never have seen the light of day if not for POD and epublishing companies. Unfortunately, POD means people who want to pay to have their unedited, unpolished manuscripts printed could end up listing some pretty crappy books at Amazon. It’s a fact. So maybe that was the impetus behind their decision. I have no idea. Unfortunately it lumped some awesome epublishers who put out a great product along with them.

But here it is in a nutshell … Amazon no longer carrying high quality ebook to print companies on their site doesn’t change the fact that there’s some damn good writing out there that’s not with the “big boys”. It just makes it harder for people to find authors they may enjoy that will no longer be found by a simple search on Amazon. That’s a bummer, but not life threatening.

So have at your letter writing campaigns and boycotts, just don’t expect me to join in the fight. As apathetic as it sounds, I’m focusing my attention on my writing and my family.

 I’m just saying…

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